Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers hope others follow suit after Nick Bjugstad ends scoring drought

Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers celebrates his first goal of the season in the second period against the host Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 6, 2014.
Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers celebrates his first goal of the season in the second period against the host Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 6, 2014. Getty Images

After scoring a team-high 38 points last season, neither the Panthers nor Nick Bjugstad thought it would take 11 games to score his first goal of the year.

Yet that’s exactly how long it took for the second-year center.

Now that he has one, Bjugstad is ready for more. And the Panthers sure could use the scoring help.

“You don’t really think about how long it’s going to take, but you don’t want it to take that long,” Bjugstad said after scoring Florida’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the host Flyers on Thursday.

“You just have to stay positive thought it. You start thinking about it, although you try not to. You have to stay positive because if you’re playing hard, there’s nothing more you can do. Hopefully they start going in and we start winning.”

Bjugstad was the latest Florida player to get on the goal sheet, although there are plenty of others still waiting to get one.

Among those players the Panthers were hoping to get some scoring help from, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Dave Bolland and Jimmy Hayes have yet to find the back of the net.

Coach Gerard Gallant said Bjugstad was probably pressing as he tried to score, and the same can be said for a lot of his players.

As for Bjugstad, Gallant says he was never really worried.

“It was just a matter of time for him,” Gallant said. “The guy hit four or five goal posts and was having some tough luck. He was playing well, but was having tough luck. Hopefully he’ll continue to score. He’s been playing very well for us.”


Aaron Ekblad has plenty of memories of Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, but Thursday marked just the first time he had skated there.

In June, Ekblad was in the stands in the Flyers’ arena when he heard his name called by general manager Dale Tallon as the top overall pick of the 2014 draft.

“I didn’t really even think about it until I was on the ice,” Ekblad said after Thursday’s morning skate. “Obviously the whole setup is different. … A lot has changed since then and a lot of good things have happened. I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made and now want to capitalize on those learning experiences.”

The large crowd in Philadelphia cheered him then. On Thursday, Ekblad got the true Philly treatment when he and Zac Rinaldo exchanged words.

When Ekblad was shown on the big screen, the boos rained down from the stands.

▪ Jonathan Huberdeau has missed the past week because of an illness but was back on the ice Friday. Gallant said Huberdeau is expected to be back in the lineup for Saturday’s matinee matchup against Calgary.

“He skated well and is ready to go,” Gallant said.

Gallant said Brandon Pirri (concussion), Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and Dave Bolland (groin) are all still day to day but will not play against the Flames.

▪ Saturday’s game will get the international treatment as it will be broadcast in 12 European countries, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

“South Florida attracts sports fans from around the world, and we have found our international fan base growing,” team president Rory Babich said in a statement.

“Through this broadcast, our European fans will have an opportunity to see their favorite Panthers players.”

Saturday: Flames at Panthers

▪ When, where: 3 p.m., BB&T Center, Sunrise.

▪ TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

▪ The series: Calgary leads 13-9-3.

▪ Of note: This is the fourth game of a five-game trip for the Flames. Calgary won in Montreal and Washington before losing to Tampa Bay 5-2 on Thursday.

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